Good News: NASA Says Antarctica Gained More Ice Than It Lost

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 03, 2015 4:15 PM
Good News: NASA Says Antarctica Gained More Ice Than It Lost

Last week, The New York Times published an exclusive about how Greenland is melting away. They had satellite photos and drone footage of the massive river formed by the melting ice sheet. It could raise sea levels by 20 feet, and could turn the world into something seen in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence. In the film, global warming has flooded the coastlines and pretty much decimated humanity:

For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise.

Yes, about the Antarctic ice sheet–it isn’t melting, according to a study by NASA:

A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.

According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.

“We’re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica,” said Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study, which was published on Oct. 30 in the Journal of Glaciology. “Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica – there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.” Zwally added that his team “measured small height changes over large areas, as well as the large changes observed over smaller areas.”

The Christian Science Monitor added that this study challenges the hypotheses relating to the causes for the rise in sea levels:

"The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away," said Dr. Zwally.

"But this is also bad news,” he added. “If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for."

The paper calls attention to how difficult it is for scientists to measure small changes in ice height, particularly in East Antarctica, the largest part of the polar continent and the one that showed discrepancies with previous measurements.

So, again, we have a situation where the science could be wrong about so-called global warming, though President Obama feels that it’s a national security priority. In fact, it’s such a top-level concern that the CIA scrapped their climate research project. When the president went to Alaska, he visited the Exit Glacier, calling it “as good a signpost of Climate Change as anything.” The glacier began receding in 1815.

In 2012, the UK Metrological Office found that global temperatures have been stagnant for the past 16 years. The following year, saw the calmest hurricane season in 30 years, the most inactive tornado season in 60 years, and the Arctic Ice Cap, which was suppose to be gone by 2013, grew by 533,000 square miles.  Also, NASA was only 38 percent sure that 2014 was the warmest year on record. Oh, and circling back to Antarctica, the resupply ships to ferry goods to the various research stations had trouble on their routes due to record accumulation of sea ice.

It’s probably more accurate to say that the jury is still out on global warming.